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Title: Contrasting coordination of non‐structural carbohydrates with leaf and root economic strategies of alpine coniferous forests

Non‐structural carbohydrates (NSCs), as the labile fraction and dominant carbon currency, are essential mediators of plant adaptation to environments. However, whether and how NSC coordinates with plant economic strategy frameworks, particularly the well‐recognized leaf economics spectrums (LES) and root economics space (RES), remains unclear.

We examined the relationships between NSC and key plant economics traits in leaves and fine roots across 90 alpine coniferous populations on the Tibetan Plateau, China.

We observed contrasting coordination of NSC with economics traits in leaves and roots. Leaf total NSC and soluble sugar aligned with the leaf economic spectrum, conveying a trade‐off between growth and storage in leaves. However, NSC in roots was independent of the root economic spectrum, but highly coordinated with root foraging, with more starch and less sugar in forage‐efficient, thinner roots. Further, NSC‐trait coordination in leaves and roots was, respectively, driven by local temperature and precipitation.

These findings highlight distinct roles of NSC in shaping the above‐ and belowground multidimensional economics trait space, and NSC‐based carbon economics provides a mechanistic understanding of how plants adapt to heterogeneous habitats and respond to environmental changes.

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New Phytologist
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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